The Oak Ridge Lady Wildcats won two games in the Oak Ridge Invitational last week.
The girls’ softball team (5-8-1, 1-5 District 3-AAA) lost a district game to Clinton, 17-15, in the first game of the tournament on Thursday.
But the next day, on Friday, the girls beat Concord Christian 8-1 and Greenback 8-2.
Oak Ridge tied White County, a team from Sparta, 4-4 on Saturday.
The last three games were all non-district games.
The Lady Wildcats also won two of three games in a softball tournament in Oneida the weekend before the Oak Ridge Invitational.
In between the two tournaments, they lost two district games, one to Anderson County (12-0) and another to Karns (13-2). The Lady Mavericks are 12-5 overall and 5-1 in District 3-AAA, and Karns is 5-7 overall and 3-3 in the district.
Here are Lady Wildcat highlights in the Oneida and Oak Ridge tournament games, according to coaches Nelson Glover and Judy Siebert.
In the Oneida tournament, Oak Ridge beat a good Oneida team 16-9 on Saturday, March 25, Glover said
That same day, the girls came back to beat Wayne County, Kentucky, 12-8, in extra innings, Glover said. He said it was one of the best games Oak Ridge has played.
“If the girls let up at all, Wayne County wins,” Glover said. “We kept fighting and kept scrapping.”
The game was highlighted by senior center fielder Mollie Turner throwing out a Wayne County runner at the plate in the bottom of the seventh inning, at the end of regulation time.
The Lady Wildcats scored four runs in the ninth inning to win the game.
Glover said sophomore Hannah Phillips pitched five strong innings against Clinton in the 17-15 district loss in the Oak Ridge Invitational on Thursday. The Lady Wildcats were up 12-7 after five innings. Phillips came out, and the Lady Wildcats thought they could hold the game, Glover said.
But Clinton had a four-run burst in the sixth inning, including a home run, before taking a 13-12 lead. Oak Ridge tied the game at 13, but the Lady Dragons were up by four runs, 17-13, in the seventh inning.
But the Lady Wildcats didn’t quit, scoring two runs in the seventh to narrow the Clinton lead to 17-15.
It was a high-scoring game, but Oak Ridge came up short.
Still, “I was proud of our girls, the way they fought back,” Glover said.
He cited the play of designated player Mady McEntire, a hard worker who is only in her second year of playing softball. She’s a very effective slap hitter, meaning she’s good at just making bunt-like contact with the ball, Glover said. That’s hard to do and hard to defend, he said.
Kelsey Benjamin had two home runs and at least three hits on Thursday, Glover said. She’s a very effective power hitter and clutch hitter.
And Bailey Watkins, a transfer from Oliver Springs, has been a great addition, Glover said. Watkins, a sophomore who plays third base, hits with power and is a good defender, Glover said.
Phillips, who pitched the first five innings against Clinton on Thursday, pitched again in the 8-1 win over Concord Christian in the Oak Ridge Invitational on Friday. (Concord Christian is a school near Farragut.)
She had improved control and command of her pitches, keeping them low, Glover said.
He said that game against Concord Christian featured a good solid performance by a younger lineup.
Sophomore Monica Porter had a few hits, and senior Mikaela Porter had a hit with two runs batted in.
Junior Emily Brewer also had a few hits.
In the 8-2 win over Greenback on Friday, Oak Ridge scored eight runs in two innings.
“That was big because we hadn’t beaten Greenback before,” Glover said. “There’s an unwritten rivalry there. It was nice to come and beat them.”
Junior pitcher Caroline Tobler, who has several wins, had great control on inside and outside pitches in that game, Glover said.
Almost the whole lineup got on base and got runs in that game, coaches said.
“We had a nice offensive explosion,” Glover said. “The team chemistry appears to be improving.”
The Lady Wildcats played White County, which was undefeated in the tournament until Saturday afternoon, and the two teams tied 4-4.
Oak Ridge knew White County would be a challenge because they had been tied 3-3 with Central on Friday and went on to score.
Oak Ridge junior Kiana LaRock, who gave up seven hits, pitched an outstanding performance, Glover said.
With the bases loaded, Turner, Oak Ridge’s senior center fielder, hit a single into left field that got past the White County left fielder, and all four Lady Wildcat runners scored.
McEntire, the sophomore who is only playing her second year of softball, had a single and scored.
“She’s been on fire, getting on base and scoring in the last week,” Coach Siebert said.
McEntire had been a base runner, but in her first start this season, she got on base four times in five times at bat, and she scored all four times, Siebert said.
Glover said Watkins, the sophomore transfer from Oliver Springs, had a good tournament in the Oak Ridge Invitational, especially on defense.
Watkins said she’s proud of the team for sticking together and playing together. They have better team chemistry, she said.
“We’re making our way back up to the middle third, looking to get into the top third,” Watkins said.
The Lady Wildcats play a district double-header at Gibbs (14-3, 5-1) at 5 p.m. today (Tuesday, April 4). There will be two five-inning games. It’s the first meeting between the two teams this season.
They play Central (1-8, 0-4) in a district game at home at 5:30 p.m. Thursday. The Lady Wildcats beat the Lady Bobcats 6-5 on March 16.
Oak Ridge plays at Webb at 5 p.m. Friday and at Northview at 1 p.m. Saturday. Those are both non-district games. You can see the season schedule here.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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